When to Send Wedding Invitations (Exact Timelines)

Planning a wedding involves numerous details, but one of the most crucial is knowing when to send out your wedding invitations.

Timing is everything to ensure your guests have enough notice to make arrangements. This guide will walk you through the best times to send out wedding invitations for every scenario. Plus, we’ll cover exactly what to do if you’re running late.

Cheat Sheet for When to Send Wedding Invitations

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Wedding ScenarioBest Time to Send Invitations
Traditional Church Wedding6-8 months before the wedding
Destination Wedding8-12 months before the wedding
Holiday Weekend Wedding9-12 months before the wedding
Local Wedding6-8 months before the wedding
Elopement Followed by Reception4-6 months before the reception
Small Intimate Wedding4-6 months before the wedding
Wedding with Many Out-of-Town Guests8-12 months before the wedding
Short Engagement3-4 months before the wedding
Second Wedding4-6 months before the wedding
Vow Renewal4-6 months before the event
Surprise Wedding2-3 months before the wedding
Virtual Wedding2-3 months before the wedding
Summary Chart: When to Send Wedding Invitations

Traditional Church Wedding

For a traditional church wedding, it’s best to send out invitations 6-8 months before the wedding date.

This timeframe allows guests ample time to make travel arrangements, request time off work, and prepare for the celebration. Additionally, this early notice is respectful to guests who may need to arrange accommodations or coordinate with family members.

Destination Wedding

A destination wedding requires a longer lead time due to the travel involved. Send invitations 8-12 months in advance.

This gives your guests enough time to book flights, secure lodging, and plan their trips. Early invites also help you gauge how many guests can attend, which is crucial for destination weddings where minimum guest numbers might be required by venues.

Holiday Weekend Wedding

Weddings on holiday weekends can be tricky, as guests often have prior plans.

Sending invitations 9-12 months before the wedding ensures your guests can save the date. Early invitations help them plan their holiday around your celebration, book travel early to avoid peak pricing, and arrange their schedules accordingly.

Local Wedding

For a local wedding, 6-8 months is the ideal time to send out invitations.

This period strikes a balance between giving guests enough notice and ensuring the wedding details are fresh in their minds. Local guests typically don’t need as much time to plan, but they still appreciate the courtesy of early notice.

Elopement Followed by Reception

If you’re eloping and planning a reception later, send invitations 4-6 months before the reception date.

This allows guests to prepare for the event without the pressure of immediate travel. Since elopements are often more spontaneous, the reception serves as a celebration for a larger group, making this timeline suitable.

Small Intimate Wedding

For a small, intimate wedding, invitations should go out 4-6 months in advance.

With fewer guests, the planning process is generally simpler, but early invites ensure everyone can attend. This timeline also accommodates any personal preferences or special arrangements needed for close family and friends.

Wedding with Many Out-of-Town Guests

Mailbox overflowing with beautiful wedding invitations in a countryside - When to Send Wedding Invitations
I made this image with AI – When to Send Wedding Invitations

When many of your guests are traveling from out of town, send invitations 8-12 months before the wedding.

This gives them ample time to arrange travel, book hotels, and plan their trip. Out-of-town guests will appreciate the early notice, which allows them to take advantage of early booking discounts and plan their schedules.

Short Engagement

For a short engagement, send invitations 3-4 months before the wedding. A shorter timeline means you’ll need to act quickly on all fronts, from booking vendors to sending invites.

Early and clear communication is key to ensuring your guests can attend on short notice.

Second Wedding

For a second wedding, the invitation timeline is typically 4-6 months.

Guests may not need as much notice as for a first wedding, but ample time should still be given for planning. This timeline respects the guests’ schedules while allowing for a more relaxed planning process.

Vow Renewal

When planning a vow renewal, send invitations 4-6 months in advance. This timeframe provides guests with enough notice to plan their attendance without the urgency of a wedding. It’s a celebration of love and commitment, so ensuring your loved ones can attend is important.

Surprise Wedding

For a surprise wedding, invitations should be sent 2-3 months before the event.

Although the element of surprise is key, giving guests a few months’ notice helps ensure they can attend. Keep the invitation intriguing and exciting to build anticipation for the surprise.

Virtual Wedding

For a virtual wedding, send invitations 2-3 months before the date.

Even though guests don’t need to travel, they still need to plan their schedules and ensure they can join the virtual celebration. Early invitations help ensure high attendance and allow for any necessary tech preparations.

Here is a good video about when to send wedding invitations:

YouTube Video by Bluebird Bride Academy — When to Send Wedding Invitations

When Is Too Early to Send Invitations?

Sending wedding invitations too early can be as problematic as sending them too late.

Here’s why it matters:

  • Guest Forgetfulness – If invitations are sent too early, guests might forget about the event by the time it arrives. Aim for the sweet spot where the wedding date is fresh in their minds.
  • Lost Invitations – Invitations sent too far in advance risk being misplaced. This can lead to confusion and extra work for you to resend details.
  • Changes in Plans – Early invitations leave more room for unexpected changes. Venues, dates, and other details might shift, causing the need to send updates, which can be cumbersome and confusing for guests.
  • Early RSVPs – While early RSVPs might seem beneficial, they can actually complicate final planning. Guests’ plans may change, leading to last-minute cancellations or changes, which can disrupt your arrangements.

To avoid these issues, stick to the recommended timelines for your specific wedding scenario.

This ensures your invitations arrive at the perfect time, keeping your guests informed and excited about your special day.

When Is It Too Late to Send Out Wedding Invitations?

Timing is crucial when sending out wedding invitations, and knowing when it’s too late is just as important. Here are key factors to consider:

  • Guest Planning – Invitations sent less than 3-4 months before the wedding can be problematic. Guests need time to arrange travel, accommodations, and work schedules. Short notice may result in many declining due to prior commitments.
  • RSVP Management – Late invitations make it difficult to manage RSVPs effectively. You’ll need to quickly gather responses, which can lead to last-minute changes and increased stress.
  • Vendor Coordination – Many vendors require final headcounts weeks in advance. Sending invitations too late could disrupt your ability to provide accurate numbers, affecting catering, seating, and other logistics.
  • Invitation Production – Custom invitations take time to print and mail. Rushing this process can lead to errors or lower-quality materials, impacting the overall presentation of your wedding.
  • Guest Experience – Sending invitations too late can make guests feel like an afterthought. Ensuring they have ample notice shows respect and consideration, enhancing their experience and excitement for your wedding.

What If You Send Out Invitations Late?

What if You Send Out Invitations Late?

If you find yourself behind schedule, don’t panic. Here’s what you can do:

  • Communicate Promptly – Reach out to guests as soon as possible to inform them of the upcoming event. Use email, phone calls, or social media to get the word out quickly.
  • Digital Invitations – Consider using digital invitations to save time on printing and mailing. Websites like Paperless Post and Evite can help you send invitations instantly.
  • Personal Touch – For close family and friends, a personal call or message explaining the delay can go a long way in maintaining good relationships and ensuring attendance.
  • RSVP Follow-Ups – Follow up promptly with guests to confirm their attendance. This helps you finalize numbers and make necessary arrangements.

When to Send Out Save the Dates

Sending out save the dates is another important step in wedding planning.

Here’s a detailed guide to help you understand the best time to send them out and ensure your guests have ample time to prepare.

Domestic Weddings

For weddings within your country, it’s recommended to send save the dates 6 to 8 months in advance. This gives your guests plenty of time to mark their calendars, arrange travel plans, and make accommodations if necessary.


  • Venue Availability: Ensure your venue is booked before sending save the dates.
  • Guest Travel Plans: Provide enough time for guests who need to make travel arrangements.

Destination Weddings

For destination weddings, the timeline extends to 8 to 12 months in advance (and possibly longer).

Destination weddings require more planning on your guests’ part, including booking flights, hotels, and possibly requesting time off work.


  • Travel Logistics: Give guests ample time to find the best travel deals and accommodations.
  • Detailed Information: Include information about travel, accommodation options, and any group booking codes.

Holiday Weekends or Peak Seasons

If your wedding falls on a holiday weekend or during a peak season, send out save the dates 9 to 12 months in advance.

This allows your guests to plan around busy schedules and potentially higher travel costs.


  • Early Planning: Guests need to plan around holidays and busy travel seasons.
  • Increased Costs: Provide time for guests to budget for potentially higher expenses.

Final Thoughts: When to Send Wedding Invitations

Planning a wedding involves many moving parts, but sending out invitations on time is crucial for a smooth celebration.

Whether you’re having a traditional church wedding, a destination event, or a surprise ceremony, timing your invitations correctly ensures your guests have ample notice to share in your special day.

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